Beauty for the Asking (1939) Poster

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She's "The Fuller Brush Boss"....
mark.waltz3 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
In 1950's "The Fuller Brush Girl", it was Lucille Ball on the street, selling creams, powders and hairstyling items, but here, she's the inventor of a cream she is sure will revolutionize the beauty industry. It all happens after the man she loves (Patric Knowles) marries a member of the upper-crust (Frieda Inescort), breaking her heart. She peddles her product to a manufacturer (Donald Woods) who finds an investor in none other than Inescort. The romantic tensions re-arise between Knowles and Ball as they become re-acquainted, and Lucy, who has come to find Inescort to be a good friend, struggles to do the right thing.

This light-hearted "B" movie is a surprisingly good little drama of a woman making good in spite of herself, past failures and learning how to retain her integrity while rising in the business world. Ball comes on to her investors with a clever deception which actually makes the seemingly snooty Inescort admire her all the more and reveal her down-to-earth nature, only exploding when she learns that husband Knowles intends to leave her to return to Lucy. But the somewhat hasty ending resolves all between the two friends, putting Inescort's bitchy society friends in their place, and proving that women don't have to be competitors for men, can be friends, and can work together without resulting in the snarls of cat-fights and wisecracks.

Those who love Lucy mainly for her TV comedy won't find that persona here, but she's also a far cry from her nasty gangster's moll in "The Big Street" and the cynical dames of her many other "B" films at RKO. The result is a multi-layered characterization that is actually much more realistic and relatable.
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Enjoyable B Movie
allans-719 November 2007
I enjoyed this movie. The review of it in "The RKO Story" was not very flattering and I was expecting something fairly dire. But I was surprised when I began to view it and felt compelled to watch it through.

While it does have a conventional story line and predictable ending, the acting is believable, the script is believable and the direction moves the story along. I enjoyed the efforts of the Lucille Ball character in getting to the top, and helping her counterpart in beautifying herself. The Lucille Ball role (and Lucille herself) reminded me of Ginger Rogers for some reason. I thought she was good as a woman struggling between heart and mind. I didn't go much for the Donald Woods character however - too sappy except for at the start.
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Lucy rises above trite material
kidboots21 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Lucille Ball wasn't always "madcap" Lucy. From the late 30s on she appeared in a variety of films to show her versatility as an actress - some were prestigious productions, "Stage Door", "The Big Street", "Best Foot Forward", "Without Love" - this film at 70 minutes wasn't one of them.

It did show that she could rise above trite material and play a sympathetic and flesh and blood character very convincingly.

She plays Jean Russell, a beautician who is creating a new cold cream. She is "engaged" to two-timer Denny (Patric Knowles) who has just informed her he is marrying rich but plain Flora Barton (Frieda Inescort). (It takes to the end of the film for Jean to realize that Denny is a first class heel.

While trying to drum up business she meets Jeffrey Martin (the always boring Donald Woods) and together they make the face cream a sensation. Flora Barton puts up $500,000 to get the cosmetic factory off the ground. Flora (the idiot) loves Denny and Jean helps her achieve the outer beauty she never thought she possessed.

Frieda Inescort looks gorgeous with the glamour treatment. Inez Courtney plays Jean's buddy. It all ends conventionally happily ever after.
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B-movie worked on by five writers...each had one good joke a-piece
moonspinner5512 May 2009
Thin production courtesy RKO Pictures has a plot-line that Lucille Ball's Lucy Ricardo would positively envy. Ball plays the inventor behind a pricey face cream for high society customers; she makes a fortune with it and draws a former flame back into her life. Relatively low-keyed comedy from the era of the screwball farce, relying on cynical jabs at the beauty business rather than sight-gags. Script was worked on at different times by five writers (Grace Norton, Adele S. Buffington, Edmund L. Hartmann, Doris Anderson, and Paul Jarrico), none of whom provides that much-needed hilarious set-piece. Some leisurely laughs along the way, mostly forgettable. Lucy-addicts will raise the rating a notch. ** from ****
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